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Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is essential for building collagen, the connective tissue protein that "cements" the cells and tissues together. The effect of this material is to provide firm tissues of all kinds: strong blood vessels, teeth firmly held in their sockets, and bones firmly held together.
Ascorbic acid improves the absorption of iron from the intestines; it is needed to convert folacin to folinic acid; it is required for the formation of hormones such as thyroxine and adrenaline and probably the steroid hormones; it participates in the metabolism of amino acids; and it is essential in wound healing.
Body stores
With an adequate diet the body maintains a normal saturation of vitamin С in the tissues. The greatest concentration occurs in the adrenal gland and the eyes. With an adequate intake, the stores in the adult body range between 600 and 1500 mg. If an individual consumed no vitamin C, this store would be used up in 20 to 50 days, assuming that he needed 30 mg per day. During this time symptoms would begin to develop as described below.
The kidney helps to regulate tissue storage. When the tissues are depleted, very little ascorbic acid will be excreted. When the tissues are saturated, the excess intake will be excreted.
Recommended allowances
A minimum intake of 10 mg ascorbic acid daily will prevent scurvy, but higher intakes are recommended for optimum health. The recommended allowance for adults is 60 mg; of infants, 35 mg; and for children, 45 mg.
Food sources
Ascorbic acid is sometimes called the "fresh-food" vitamin. It occurs in the growing parts of the plant, but it is absent from the dormant seed. Only the vegetable-fruit group contributes to the vitamin С intake. Human milk from a healthy mother supplies sufficient amounts for the young infant. Pasteurized milk contains only traces.
Raw fresh fruits and vegetables all contain vitamin C, but some foods are more outstanding than others. Oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, limes, and lemons are especially rich. Cantaloupe, strawberries, guava, and fresh pineapple are good sources. Blueberries, peaches, apples, pears, and banana are lower in vitamin C; if they are eaten in large amounts, they may be important for this vitamin.
The dark green leafy vegetables so rich in carotene are also important for ascorbic acid. Tossed salad, or freshly prepared cabbage slaw, or fresh tomatoes are excellent sources. Broccoli is one of the outstanding sources; one serving, even after cooking, is equal in vitamin content to that of an orange.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes contain much less vitamin C, but it is sometimes said that "the lowly potato has prevented more scurvy than the lordly orange.' This statement applies, of course, to those people who include appreciable amounts of fresh potato in the daily diet and who exercise care in proper preparation so that the vitamin is retained.
Canned and frozen citrus juices and fruits and tomato juice contain almost as much ascorbic acid as the fresh fruit. Cooked or canned nonacid fruits and vegetables lose more of the ascorbic acid. Frozen vegetables and fruits contain most of the vitamin С of the fresh product. On the other hand, dried foods contain only traces. Some food processors now add ascorbic acid to dehydrated potatoes, apple juice, and other foods. Labels should be read for this information.

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